wickitom's picture
Last seen: 13 years 3 weeks ago
Joined: Sep 15 2009 - 4:18pm
Whats more important, better quality headphones or dac?
Demondog's picture
Last seen: 6 years 10 months ago
Joined: Feb 22 2009 - 5:01pm

Normally I'd upgrade what is holding back the sound the most. Don't know if it's your headphone or source, since I'm not familiar with either.

In the rating scenario, if my choices were more or less final, I'd try to match the source and headphone, with both 5/10. Having a weak link with a very strong one will mostly waste the advantage of the superior link, but that doesn't mean you can't do it.

If I were planning to upgrade just one now, but thinking of upgrading the other some time down the road, I'd probably splurge on the source. The best headphones won't make a compromised source sound any better than it is.

andy19191's picture
Last seen: Never ago
Joined: Nov 25 2006 - 1:50am

> I am assuming getting higher quality headphones connected
> to my laptop would do only little in quality of the music.

You have never been to a department store and listened to the difference in sound between headphones?

JoeE SP9
JoeE SP9's picture
Last seen: 1 day 7 hours ago
Joined: Oct 31 2005 - 6:02pm

Get a USB DAC with a headphone amp built in. Benchmark makes a very nice one. Then, get some "decent" headphones (Grado 225I or 325I for example) so you can hear how good the DAC is.

struts's picture
Last seen: 2 years 9 months ago
Joined: Feb 1 2007 - 12:02pm

I would go for a decent USB DAC. The rationale is that a good headphone amplifier will allow you to enjoy most headphones, while the very cheap opamp in a laptop will only drive easy loads (i.e. would really struggle with the AKG 701s you were asking about in the other thread) and even then with pretty low fidelity. You may even find that a good headphone amp/DAC represents such an improvement that you can wait with new headphones!

soundwavesurfer's picture
Last seen: 2 years 2 months ago
Joined: Dec 1 2021 - 10:26am

I have had a Sennheiser HD 201 by 7 years and having the option to purchase a DAC or better headphones, I opted for the DAC.
Now I have the same headphones but with a Shanling UA DAC. It has 32 bit PCM and DSD 512 . It gave new life to my headphones. Despite being the most basic of the decent, I can distinguish more details way better.
Maybe the next year I would get a Audiotechnica M40X or something from the same level.

Best regards!

manunkind's picture
Last seen: 3 months 3 weeks ago
Joined: Apr 27 2019 - 7:27am

With my purely subjective limited experience, I'd rate headphones at 60% of total purchase price, then amp at 30% and DAC at 10%. Yes, nice headphones do need a proper amplifier to bring it out, hut let's face it- the DAC is just that, a digital-to-analogue-converter. Sure, the better the quality the better the sound... But upgrading all three, headphones quality made by far the biggest difference.

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